Let’s be honest, shall we? I complain. Maybe some of you who actually know me don’t think that’s true. I complain at a minimum in public. But in my heart, I have always thought more about the bad stuff. I get mad at God for not doing things the way I would. I get annoyed with people who don’t see things the way I do. The world is a mess and I just need to rule it. (Thank you, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.)
And for the record, Moses was a terrible leader. Any time someone talks about Moses and his leadership, I have to roll my eyes and think, did you read Exodus? He was bitter. He was angry. He was a complainer. Just like his people. Coincidence? I think not. Moses complained to God about everyone else. He was tired of dealing. He talked over people’s heads. He could barely be bothered by his own siblings.
For the record, complaining in and of itself isn’t necessarily a sin. We are allowed to air our grievances, our hurts, our concerns, our anger. You read the Psalms and there are some real emotional whirlwinds in there that show us how it’s ok to let it all hang out, so to speak.
The problem is when the complaining takes control. When your heart is consumed by it and you can barely talk about anything without defaulting into bitterness and anger and rage. Maybe it’s a low simmer these days, but it’s there.
We live in an age that thrives on complaining. A quick skim of the news and headlines and the majority of them are slanted in some way to enrage someone. Click-bait aside, the media, and advertisers, know that the way to our dollars in through our fear which is exposed through our sources of bitterness. It’s all connected. We want things. We don’t get them. We blame. We rage. We stew.
When I’m tempted to complain, I have to ask myself what I’m really angry about. Sometimes it’s just a deflection from some bigger issue that I’m avoiding. Sometimes it’s just envy – over something or someone that I think I want to be more like, when in reality I am so much better off as is. Sometimes I just suffer from the grass is greener and then combat that with who needs grass any way? and swing back and forth between discontent and denial.
Complain about the things we should complain about.
It feels overwhelming to consider the wrongs of the world. But it’s the brokenness and arrogance of my heart that rages against the small discontentments of my life when what I need to rage against is the very sinfulness and deceitfulness of my own soul. And in seeing the depths of my soul, the potential disasters and the actual disasters my brokenness has created, I also get to see just how big of a cross it took to cover my depth with grace. I see the widened hole that I made of my life AND I see the lengths to which my God and King went to bring me back from the wilderness and set me on a journey to know him more, to love him more, to grow in grace, to ponder anew what the Almighty will do. And it’s in total confidence that I complain to God and let him rearrange my thinking to see how he is working and restoring all things. Not the way I would do it. And that’s a good thing. Not as fast as I would like it. But I would also be quicker to destroy it. Not as feebly as I would accomplish it. But in total and completely. Praise God, the desert time will end, and the land will be ours.